The Warm Home Discount Scheme explained

Learn if you can get £150 off your winter heating costs.

  • The Warm Home Discount Scheme for winter 2023 to 2024 opens on 16 October 2023. The information in the rest of this guide relates to last year’s scheme – we’ll update it when we get the new details. The scheme is different if you’re on a low income in Scotland – contact your electricity provider as soon as you can to see if you’re eligible and how to apply. The number of discounts is limited.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is designed to help vulnerable households with the cost of heating their home over the winter. If you’re eligible to benefit from the scheme, the government will contribute £150 towards your electricity bill.

Our guide covers who’s eligible, which suppliers take part and the best ways to save on your energy costs. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will change from July 2022, with the new rules in force for the start of the 2022–2023 payment window.

What is the Warm Home Discount Scheme?

We use far more power during winter than during summer – a study published by the government found that it’s around a third more, on average. The Warm Home Discount, which launched in 2011, is designed to help pensioners and certain vulnerable and low income households with their electricity bills over the winter.

If you’re eligible, the government will give your energy supplier £150 to be credited to your electricity bill between October and March. If you’re eligible and your home has a pre-payment or pay-as-you-go electricity meter then you’ll typically get a £150 credit voucher to load onto your account.

You can request that the payment goes towards your gas bill instead of your power, but only if your supplier provides both gas and electricity to your home.

From 2022 the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which previously paid eligible households £140 each winter, will only operate in England and Wales, with a separate Warm Home Discount Scheme planned for Scotland. We will update the guide with information for Scottish households when further details of the new scheme are made available.

Households in Northern Ireland may be eligible for a separate scheme designed to help those on low incomes reduce their energy costs. More details can be found on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive website.

We don’t yet have the exact details of when the 2022–2023 scheme opens, but based on previous years it’s likely to begin making payments on or around 18 October 2022. If you’re expecting to get the discount on your bill then you should receive a letter between October and December. (Last checked: April 2022).

Who’s eligible?

Under the scheme changes due to be introduced from July 2022, most eligible households will get the discount automatically. To qualify, your household will need to have met 1 of 2 sets of criteria on a particular day, known as the qualifying date. We don’t yet know the qualifying date for the 2022–2023 scheme, but based on previous years, it’s likely to be early July 2022.

Core group 1

You’ll automatically get the £150 bill credit if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. The discount will be applied if, on the qualifying date, you or your partner claim the benefit and the following things are also true:

  • Your energy supplier is part of the scheme
  • Your name or your partner’s name is on the electricity bill

If this applies to you, you’re part of what the government calls the “core group 1”.

Core group 2

If neither you nor your partner receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you may still be able to receive the £150 discount if you’re a member of “core group 2”.

To be eligible as part of this group, your household needs to be on a low income, you have a participating energy supplier and you receive one or more of the following means-tested benefits or Tax Credits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits
  • Savings Credit element of Pension Credit

All of those in this group will also receive the discount on their bills automatically without needing to apply to their energy supplier, as was previously the case.

Can you challenge eligibility decisions?

Yes. Under the changes coming into force from July 2022, the government has said that households who feel they have been wrongly refused the discount will be able to challenge this decision. The precise details of how they will be able to do this haven’t been announced yet, but we will update this guide as soon as the details are made public.

Based on information provided by the energy market regulator Ofgem, the challenge process is likely to involve contacting a government helpline by a certain date each year.

Do all energy suppliers have to offer the discount?

No. Under the rules, suppliers who have more than 50,000 household customers in Great Britain have to join the scheme. While this makes it likely that most suppliers will be taking part in the scheme, certain smaller suppliers will not have to join.

The government website has a full list of the energy suppliers that took part in the 2021–2022 Warm Home Discount scheme. The list of suppliers taking part in the 2022–2023 scheme has not yet been announced. We will update this guide once the government makes further announcements about the 2022–2023 scheme.

How to apply

If you’re in either of the “core” groups you’ll receive a letter between October and December 2022 from the government confirming your eligibility. The government’s plan is to match customer data from energy suppliers with benefits data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, alongside information from the Valuation Office Agency, a public body that advises the government on property valuations to help it determine relevant taxes. If this all works out, eligible households will not need to apply to receive the discount.

The letter will also tell you if you need to call a helpline by 28 February 2023 to confirm your details. If all goes to plan, your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2023.

Other government help with energy costs

£150 council tax energy rebate

As a response to the dramatic £693 increase in the energy price cap from April 2022 (based on average usage), the government is to issue a £150 rebate to all households in council tax bands A–D across England. This is expected to affect 20 million households. Payments are expected to be made to eligible households throughout April, but local authorities have until September to make these payments, so check with your local authority to find out when you can expect your rebate.

For those who pay their council tax via a direct debit, the £150 payment will go into their bank account, the government has said. Households that don’t pay their council tax with a direct debit should be contacted by their local council to confirm how the £150 payment will be made to them.

The Welsh and Scottish governments have announced similar rebate initiatives.

£200 Energy Bills Support Scheme (bill credit loan)

In April 2022 the government also announced that all domestic energy customers in England, Wales and Scotland will receive a one-time £200 discount on their electricity bills in October 2022. The discount will be paid out regardless of which tariff a household is on and how much energy it uses.

The payment will be made in the form of a bill credit placed on to domestic energy customers’ supplier accounts or your bill will simply be reduced by £200. Those with prepay electricity meters will receive a voucher or a cheque, or receive a payment through their smart meters.

The government plans to recover the cost of offering this discount by levying a £40 charge per year on everybody’s bills from April 2023 for the next 5 years. The way that the scheme is set to work has led some observers to describe it as a “loan” that everybody will receive, regardless of whether they want it or not.

The exact details of how the discount scheme will be organised haven’t yet been announced, so we will update this guide once we know more.

Financial support from local councils

Alongside the 2 schemes outlined above, the government will also set aside a £144 million pot to be used by local councils to make discretionary payments to vulnerable households who may “slip through the net”. Groups that can benefit from this funding will include those who don’t pay council because they’re on very low incomes but live in more expensive homes.

Alternative discounts and ways to save on energy

If you’re worried that you’ll struggle with your energy bills this winter but you don’t qualify for the Warm Home Discount, there are some other government schemes that may be of help.

Cold Weather Payment

If you’re on certain benefits or you claim support for mortgage interest, then you’ll get a payment if the average outside temperature in your area dips to 0°C or below over 7 consecutive days.

The government will give you £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. The money will be paid into the same bank account used to receive your benefits within 14 working days.

You may be able to get Cold Weather Payments if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Receiving one of these benefits does not automatically make you eligible. Full details on how to claim Cold Weather Payments can be found on the website.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you receive the state pension, you may be able to receive the Winter Fuel Payment, which is worth between £100 and £300 every year.

As a pensioner, you’ll automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment if:

  • You were born on or before 26 September 1955
  • You lived in the UK for at least 1 day during the week of 19–23 September 2022 (the “qualifying week”)

If you don’t get the state pension, you’ll still automatically receive the payment if you get certain benefits.

If you don’t meet any of the criteria to get the payment automatically, you may still be able to get it by making a claim and applying. The criteria if you don’t meet the above conditions can be pretty complicated. You may be eligible to apply if one of the below options is true:

  • You don’t get the state pension and only receive one or more of the following benefits: Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit, OR
  • You get any other benefits or the state pension, but live in Switzerland or a country in the European Economic Area (but not Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain)

The payment is usually made in November or December.

For full details on eligibility criteria and to find out how to apply, check the website.

Home improvement and insulation grants

The government offers a range of cash grants to be used to insulate your home or replace your boiler. These measures will help lower your energy costs, especially over the colder winter months.

For a full list of available grants both nationally and in your local area, check the government’s Simple Energy Advice website.

Residents in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Affordable Warmth Scheme, which pays grants to homeowners in order to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes.

Switching supplier and locking in a fixed price

Finally, we usually suggest that one of the quickest ways to cut down your energy costs is to compare and switch tariffs. However, since April 2022 extremely tough market conditions, particularly due to gas shortages, the Ofgem-regulated energy price cap has leapt up by £693 a year based on average use. This has meant that there are virtually no fixed deals that are cheaper than being on a standard variable or “default” tariff.

This situation is unlikely to change in the short term, but we will keep the situation under review and update this guide if new fixed deals offer better value.

In the meantime, if you want to compare a wider variety of suppliers based on where you live and what you need, just enter your postcode via the “Compare” button below to see if you’re currently overpaying.

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The bottom line

The Warm Home Discount has been operating for almost a decade to help the most financially vulnerable households in Britain with the costs of their winter electricity bills.

If you meet certain criteria and your energy supplier is part of the discount scheme, then you’ll receive the £150 bill credit automatically. If you don’t qualify to receive the discount automatically, you may still be able to apply for it.

If you meet the criteria then you’ll receive the bill credit, regardless of whether your home uses a credit meter or a pre-payment meter for electricity.

Frequently asked questions

In 2022, the energy market is seeing price rises and far less competition. Get guidance on whether it's the right time to switch by using the personalised quick checker from our partner, Uswitch.

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